When you arrive at Pacific Grove it appears to be like any other municipal course. The Pro Shop staff if friendly, the driving range is actually pretty small and you hit off mats, the putting and chipping area is conveniently located by the first tee. It’s when you get on the course you realize what a great value it is to play because you have the front nine in the forest and the back nine on the ocean.
They call Pacific Grove “the poor man’s pebble” but I would say it is more like Spyglass Hill which has a portion of the course on the ocean and other holes in the forest. As of this writing the green fee (with cart) during the week is $56 and on the weekends/Holidays $70 (after 1 p.m $50).
You will see a lot of deer on the front nine. They are clearly not worried about golfers and won’t move out of the way as you come up the fairway to hit your ball. I must admit that I did hit a deer with my approach shot on the fourth hole and the deer just hopped (because he was startled) and then just kept eating. I joked with my golf partner that I would have been on the green in regulation had the deer not interfered. (Note: click on images below to enlarge).
A few notes on holes: The front nine did not really have any tricky holes but there were some elevation changes (Hole 7 is 170 yards uphill off the tee) and fairways sloping left to right or visa versa. The back nine is more challenging with the wind off the ocean. I suppose if you spray you drives you would have more trouble on the front nine. A few specific points…
- The fairway grass is Kikuyu. I have never played on this type of grass and noticed it was hard to delineate the fairway from the rough on many holes.
- The grass on the greens is Poa Annua so they are spongy or a bit bumpy. If you are not used to playing on Poa Annua it will take a few holes to get use to the greens.
- The course starts with two par 3 holes. They are long par 3 holes – 146 from back tees, 141 from forward tees. Hole 2 – 199 from back tees, 187 from forward tees. The holes are all named. The first two holes are “Little Tombstone” and “Big Tombstone” which refers to the old cemetery on the right side (of course, it’s out-of-bounds).
- Two par 5 holes were over 500 yards from the forward tees – Hole 6 “Long Tom”, 521 yards, the longest – that’s just too long for shorter hitters to get on the green in regulation.
- Pace of Play – It was slow (at first) they don’t appear to have a ranger. The issue for us was that they let a foursome out in front of us who were sharing clubs and it really slowed them down. One of the men in our group hit into them on the seventh hole (by accident) and so lucky for us on the next hole they let us play through otherwise it could have been a five hour plus round.
- Also for anyone that misses their drives left, the main street is along the 18th fairway. One man in our foursome almost hit two cars and some pedestrians as his wayward shot went to the road and bounced on the pavement and on the sidewalk a few times.
The best compliment I can give Pacific Grove is that if I were a local I would be thrilled to have this course as an affordable place to play every week; and as a visitor, it is on my list next time I am back in the area.